knits by sachi

Japanese Kabocha squash

on October 31, 2015


I see large orange pumpkins everywhere now. The Halloween is arriving.

When we say ‘pumpkin’ in Japan, we immediately think of Japanese Kabocha squash.

It may be the only squash grown in our country. We can buy butternut or spaghetti squash in posh department stores, but they can be rather pricey, and not many of us know how to cook them.

But Kabocha is very common and popular, and I absolutely love them. It has a strong yet sweet flavor and moist, fluffy texture, which is like chestnut.

I see similar looking squash in the UK supermarkets sometimes and they are sold as Kabocha.
Like this one.


It is green on the outside, but inside is yellow-orange flesh.

I cannot leave the shop without buying one whenever I see them, but unfortunately, they are not like the ones we can get in Japan. When I cook them, they always turn out too mushy and soggy.

The most popular kabocha recipe is “Nitsuke”. Nitsuke is a very simple simmering technique that yields a deep, sweet, salty flavour. We cut up and deseed the squash and cook it in soy sauce, sugar, sake rice wine and a bit of salt. We usually use a pot over a hob.

I tried many times and finally found out the best Nitsuke method for the UK supermarkets’ Kabocha.


I am not too keen on microwave cooking. I tried to cook with a very little liquid in the pan. I also tried steaming in a steamer, but these Kabocha always get too mushy. You need to let the moisture out while it is getting cooked.

1.Cut the Kabocha squash and deseed. Cut the flesh with green skin on. If the skin is too thick or damaged, remove it.

2. Use half the squash. Place the pieces in the heat-proof bowl and sprinkle 2 tsp of sugar, 2 tsp of Mirin rice wine or sake wine and 1 or 1 and 1/2 tbsp of soy sauce. Cover with a cling film loosely.

3. Heat in the microwave for 3-4 min. Stir and heat again without the film this time.

4. You will probably need about 6-7 mins all together. It will have similar firmness as a baked potato when it is done. Check, coat with sauce and re-heat until it is ready.


Other way to enjoy Kabocha is Tempura.
Or simple pan fry. You do not need to pre-cook them but slice thinly.
If you pan fry with butter, sugar and cinnamon, you can make a little dessert.

I do miss the real Kabocha grown in Japan, but we can enjoy something similar here in the UK, too.


When you are away from your home, I guess you miss this kind of simple home cooked dishes you were brought up with. They are not too easy to get, but I like them better than restaurant foods.

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